Getting started

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Getting started

Graduation season is here and that means torrents of journalism resumes are going out. Kristen Hare offers ten tips for keeping your application on track, such as: "We love some good journalism quotes, trust us. But what does that lovely quote have to do with you? We don't want to see that you have a firm grasp of cliches with that 'In the words of the great ...' lead. We want to see who you are and what you think." Plus tips from hiring editors.

NASW student members looking for great internships, or news and science organizations looking for top interns should plan to attend the 2016 NASW Internship Fair. The fair will be held 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, at the 2016 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Washington, D.C. Read on for important preparation details.

Julia Rosen draws from her own experience and from interviews with other scientists-turned-science-writers for a guide to making the move from academia to journalism. She also discusses her own motives for making the big switch: "Although I had excelled in science classes as an undergraduate, I was unprepared for the drudgery of lab work, and the funnel of ever-narrower research questions that felt ever more removed from the questions that motivated me at the outset."

The traditional path to a newsroom job starts with journalism school and, at most, a master's degree. But there's another way that starts with the lab and a science doctorate, writes Robert Irion, who directs the science communication program at the University of California-Santa Cruz: "My graduates agreed that it's not necessary to complete a PhD to be a successful science communicator. It's a competitive realm, however, and the degree can help open some job doors."

Felix Salmon imparts a bleak view of journalism's future to hopeful neophytes: "Life is not good for journalists. And while a couple of years ago I harbored hopes that things might improve, those hopes have now pretty much evaporated. Things are not only bad; they’re going to get worse." Ezra Klein rebuts: "The Death of Journalism is really a kind of disruptive change in journalism, and that's bad for incumbents, but you're not an incumbent."

The NASW Education Committee is again sponsoring its annual mentoring program during the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in San Jose, Feb. 12-16. We will pair mentors with students in graduate science writing programs or with undergraduates who have demonstrated a serious interest in science journalism. Use the "read more" link to learn more and apply as either a mentor or a student.

Bethany Brookshire doesn't have much patience with scientists who say they want to be science writers but don't have time to write: "I didn’t have the time either. I MADE the time. I spent a lot of nights short on sleep. I spent a lot of nights NOT out with my friends … I worked some rough hours in the lab, and then I came home and wrote blog posts. I went to full huge days of conferences, out to the parties, and then came back to the hotel room and wrote blog posts."

Poynter's Benjamin Mullin has compiled a list of 37 news organizations that offer internships, ranging in length from a summer to a year, but he warns that delay can be deadly — many of them have deadlines coming right up: "Don’t get left behind. Some of the applications for the most prestigious news organizations are due in a few weeks time, so work up the courage to request that letter of recommendation, update your résumé and figure out how stamps work."